First, let’s get this out of the way: there is no guaranteed way to win at any form of gambling whatsoever. This is why it is called gambling. All you can do is increase your chances of winning something from the portion of payouts each casino in Vegas has calculated to allow the public to win. As with any competition, having a higher level of skill than other players and knowing more about the game will give you the advantage – the rest is up to luck.
Having an understanding of how casinos work can be a big advantage when deciding where and how you will play. Casinos rely on the ‘law of large numbers’, which, when it comes to gambling, says that more people will lose than win when playing the house. If they did not believe that at the end of the day they would make a profit (also taking into account the massive rent for a casino on the strip and other running costs), casinos would not run. In order to further tip the odds in their favour, casinos impose a table limit which limits the amount you can bet unless you are a high roller (which is a whole other game entirely).
Obviously, this does not mean that people never win; it just means that your competitor is not the casino, but the player sitting next to you at the table. One of you is going to lose their money, and the other one could possibly gain a few bucks.
Begin by knowing your game. Never go to Vegas to begin a game you’ve never played before, or even just a few times. If you like blackjack, play a few hundred rounds at home before you go. Start a poker night with your buddies, or play online for a while. If you want to really brush up your skills, invest a little money and time to play at a table knowing you’re going to lose; the knowledge and experience you’ll gain is well worth the loss.
When playing at table games, have a look around the table before you sit down. Are those playing simply out to have some fun? Are they serious players? Either way has its advantages and disadvantages, and judging the character of your fellow players is vital. Take the time to see how they play, and always keep an eye out for a casino-planted ’shill’, who is being paid to make very small bets and fill up space. Check your dealer, too – although dealers are trained to do as little as possible to betray themselves during a game, it’s always worthwhile keeping a close eye on the person dealing your cards.
Check out the odds of the games you like to play. Blackjack and poker tables tend to give odds that are more fair. Keno and roulette have slightly worse odds, even though they are a little more fun. Slot machines are a Las Vegas casino’s biggest money maker, and have the worst odds out of everything inside the casino (even the chances of enjoying the Celine Dion concert). At least with playing at a table you’re up against a skilled human being, instead of a pre-programmed machine.
Increase your personal odds by spreading out your funds into small bets. The more bets you make, the more chances you have to win.
Always keep in mind the advice given to every visitor to Vegas: place a limit on how much you’re going to bet, and stick to it. Vegas can be a huge amount of fun if you stick by this simple rule and keep your expectations realistic.